Twitter Issues Android App, Says Google Will Open Source the Code

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-05-01

Twitter released the Twitter for Android application to the Android Market April 30, fortifying the company's officially unofficial portfolio of mobile applications.

The theme for this release is sharing. Users of the app will be able to tweet and share links and photos from the Share button.

Users may also access their timeline with the home screen widget, see a tweet location on a map thanks to Twitter's geotagging tool, and see tweets in the Google Talk list or any application that uses Android's QuickContact bar.

Finally, Google is open sourcing the code for Twitter for Android, allowing developers to augment the app in their upcoming apps by using Twitter APIs.

"This is just the beginning," wrote Leland Rechis, who joined Twitter from Google, where he was a user interface designer. "We'll be creating more great ways to read, find, and share what's happening on your Android phone soon!"

Here's the not so good news. Twitter for Android, which users can install by scanning the QR code here with the camera in their Android smartphone, was built for Android devices 2.1 and higher. This means it will currently only run on users' Motorola Droid, Google Nexus One or the new HTC Incredible.

As TechCrunch pointed out, only 27 percent of existing Android smartphones in the market can use Twitter for Android today.

Google is expected to release its Android 2.2 Froyo build at Google I/O May 19. However, phones running that software may be a ways away. Unless the build somehow rationalizes the five versions of the Android OS on the market-1.5, 1.6, 2.0, 2.1 and 2.2-Froyo will only extend the fragmentation plaguing Android.

Silicon Insider correctly notes Twitter for Android is a prime example of the Android fragmentation in action. Users of older Android phones may well be upset they can't use Twitter for Android.

Moreover, Twitter may find itself once again reassuring third-party programmers that it's not the end of the world now that Twitter has an official Android app, even if it's not branding it as official the way it originally did BlackBerry for Twitter.

Twitter launched BlackBerry for Twitter April 8 and acquired Atebits' Tweetie app to offer Twitter for iPhone April 9.

This caused an uproar among concerned third-party programmers, who feared Twitter will nullify their existence by building or acquiring competing applications. Twitter strove to reassure that this is part of the natural evolution of its business at its Chirp developers' conference, and urged programmers to work on other vertical apps for the platform.

"To be clear, we are going to work hard to improve our product, add new functionality, make acquisitions when it's in the best interest of users and the whole ecosystem at large," wrote Twitter Platform Director Ryan Sarver. "Each one of those things has the potential to upset a company or developer that may have been building in that space and they then have to look for new ways to create value for users."

Still, Twitter's moves concern companies such as Seesmic, which builds Twitter apps for BlackBerry and Android. Twidroid, another popular Twitter app for Android, is also now threatened by Twitter's latest move.    

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